Too small for a YMCA? … No way!

Published 2:50 pm Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Editor’s Note: This article was written by Emory Smith, a YMCA staff member

There are stories from all over the nation of how small towns have attempted to start YMCAs, only to have the attempts fail. Usually these attempts have failed, because those who were leading the efforts did not realize that starting a YMCA is a massive undertaking requiring significant financial contributions and many volunteer hours. Even those towns that have successfully started YMCAs have found that they had to spend years building programs and community support before they could even begin to think about raising money to build a YMCA facility.

More than 25 years ago, the national YMCA was contacted about helping start a YMCA in Bainbridge. Just as Bainbridge had been told years earlier that it was “too small to have a college,” Bainbridge was told that it was probably “too small to have a YMCA.” Well, you just don’t tell Bainbridge that it is “too small” for anything! Community leaders and local families stepped up. On September 15, 1986, the town that was “too small” opened a brand new million-dollar YMCA facility.

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Since September, we’ve been celebrating our 25th anniversary. We’ve started new programs, dropped our joining fees, and have been making improvements to our YMCA facility. Now, we’re going to continue the celebration by conducting the largest membership drive since the Charter Membership Drive when the YMCA was begun in 1986. Five teams of YMCA Board Members, Staff and volunteers will be contacting individuals and families throughout the community to become a part of the YMCA. Those who have never joined the “Y” are being asked to “give it a try” for a year. Those who have been members in the past are being encouraged to “come back” to see our new programs and to “get fit.”

The Anniversary Membership Drive will kick off on March 25 and will run through April 30. During this time, new members will receive a $60 discount ($5 monthly) off their individual or family memberships. YMCA membership includes full use of the YMCA pool, cardio room, weight room (with Nautilus machines and free weights), spinning room (stationary bikes) and gymnasium. It also includes free fitness classes and member discounts on youth team sports (basketball and soccer), after-school childcare, summer day camp, and swimming classes.

On Thursday, April 26, we will continue our celebration with a 25th Anniversary Celebration Dinner at the Charter House Inn. The event will be catered by Boyd’s Barbecue. The cost per person will be $25. Call us at (229) 243-0508 for more information.

So, come join us at the YMCA … and then join us for our celebration.

Mike Haynes is the interim CEO of the Bainbridge-Decatur County YMCA. He can be reached at (229) 243-0508.